Mass. boy pleads not guilty to killing teacher
SALEM, Mass. (AP) - A 14-year-old Massachusetts boy has pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges in the killing of his high school math teacher.
Philip Chism is accused in the Oct. 22 death of Colleen Ritzer, a popular teacher at Danvers High School. Ritzer's body was found in woods near the school with her throat slit and a note reading, "I hate you all."
Chism had already pleaded not guilty in district court, but the case was moved to Superior Court after he was indicted last month. His attorney agreed Wednesday to a prosecution request that he remain held without bail.
Chism had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tenn.
Police haven't released a motive for Ritzer's killing. Chism's attorney has declined to comment. Ritzer's family was in court Wednesday.
Conn. police arrest couple sought by Mass.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut police say they have arrested a Massachusetts couple who authorities believed might harm themselves and their special needs son.
Hartford Police Lt. Brian Foley said Wednesday night Massachusetts State Police asked for help locating the North Adams couple and their 20-year-old son.
Foley said 45-year-old Patrick Gaffney is charged in a Massachusetts warrant with breaking and entering, malicious destruction of property and larceny. He said Gaffney and his 41-year-old wife Debra were found in Hartford at about 2 p.m. with their son, who wasn't harmed but was evaluated at a hospital. Massachusetts officials were arranging care for him.
Foley said the couple were found with heroin and a stolen van. He said they were charged with drug possession and Patrick Gaffney was charged with larceny. It wasn't clear if they have attorneys.
FATAL DUI CRASH
Mass. man sentenced to 1 year in Maine fatal crash
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to charges in a drunken driving crash that killed his passenger.
Fifty-two-year-old Richard Griffin of Topsfield, Mass., was driving on July 6, 2012 when his vehicle went off the road and hit a tree. Twenty-two-year-old William Schneider was killed in the crash.
The Portland Press Herald reports that police had said Griffin was speeding and had been drinking before the crash.
Griffin pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of manslaughter and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol resulting in death.
A judge ordered him to serve four years on probation after his release from prison.
US Sen. Warren vows to serve out six-year term
BOSTON (AP) - U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is insisting she has no plans to run for president in 2016.
Speaking to reporters in Boston on Wednesday, Warren vowed to serve out the remainder of her six-year term. She's currently in her first year.
Warren has repeatedly denied she's interested in campaigning for the White House but that hasn't stopped speculation among liberal Democratic activists.
The Massachusetts Democrat says she's working to be the best possible senator she can be. She also said she's fighting for the issues she campaigned on last year in her race against former Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
Warren said those issues include holding banks and Wall Street accountable and helping rebuild the nation's middle class.
7 groups in Mass. file ballot question signatures
BOSTON (AP) - Supporters of seven proposed ballot questions in Massachusetts have submitted certified signatures to the secretary of state's office.
The deadline for turning in the signatures, which were certified by city and town clerks, was 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin, says officials will count the signatures to make sure that each group has the minimum 68,911 signatures needed to continue on in the process that could lead to the questions appearing on the November 2014 ballot. No more than one-quarter of the signatures can be from a single Massachusetts county.
The proposed initiatives include ones that would repeal the state's casino gambling law, raise the minimum wage and expand the bottle deposit law to include sports drinks and other beverages.
Study: Mass. to experience slow population growth
BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts is expected to experience slow population growth in coming years.
A new report by the UMass Donahue Institute forecasts a 4.4 percent increase in the population from 2010 to 2030.
That would add about 290,000 people to the state, bringing total population to more than 6.8 million.
The study estimates the population aged 65 and over will grow by over half a million, increasing from 14 percent of the population in 2010 to 21 percent by 2030.
Over the same period, the population aged 19 and under is expected to fall from 25 percent to 22 percent.
While some areas like greater Boston and MetroWest are predicted to grow faster than the average, regions in Western Massachusetts are expected to remain level or lose population.
The study was conducted with support from state Secretary William Galvin's office.
MASSACHUSETTS TAX COLLECTIONS
Mass. revenue projections could trigger tax cut
BOSTON (AP) - The new year will bring a small tax cut for Massachusetts residents.
State Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter has certified that the state's income tax will be lowered from the current 5.25 percent to 5.2 percent on Jan. 1.
In a letter on Wednesday to Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor, Pitter said tax collections have exceeded benchmarks over several months, and as a result have met the threshold required under state law to trigger an automatic .05 percent reduction in the income tax.
Officials say the tax cut will result in an estimated loss of $65 million in the fiscal year that runs through July 1.
The last time that happened was in 2011, prompting a cut in the tax from 5.3 percent to 5.25 percent.
Fed: US growth stays moderate during shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Federal Reserve survey shows the U.S. economy held steady during the 16-day partial government shutdown, growing moderately in most regions from October through late November.
The Fed says seven of its 12 banking districts described growth as moderate. Four - Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City and San Francisco - said growth was modest. Boston said its regional economy continued to expand.
Manufacturing strengthened in most districts, helped by more production of cars, trucks and high-tech products. Consumers boosted spending in most regions, and retailers were hopeful yet cautious about the holiday shopping season. Hiring improved in five of the districts; the other seven reported little change.
The beige book survey, as it is known, is based on anecdotal reports from businesses and will be considered at the Fed's next meeting.
Mass AG: Stop new federal fishing catch limits
BOSTON (AP) - Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging a court to stop new federal fishing regulations which she called an "existential threat" to New England's 400-year-old fishing industry.
Coakley said her office's motion for summary judgment, filed in the United States District Court in Boston, reinforced the arguments made in the state's lawsuit filed against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on May 30.
Coakley has also sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski asking the Maryland Democrat to include $150 million in fisheries disaster funding in the final Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget.
The complaint alleges NOAA ignored the economic impact of the regulations and using flawed science to drastically reduce the annual catch limits for cod and other species.
The suit aims to block the new rules.
Rockwell art sells for record $46M at NY auction
NEW YORK (AP) - A Norman Rockwell painting titled "Saying Grace" has sold in New York for $46 million, the highest price paid at auction for an American artwork and for a work by the Saturday Evening Post illustrator.
Sotheby's auction house says two people on the telephone bid against each other for nine minutes before the hammer came down Wednesday. The buyer's identity hasn't been disclosed.
"Saying Grace" depicts a train station restaurant with a woman and her grandson bowed in prayer at their table. It had a pre-sale estimate of $15 million to $20 million.
Sotheby's sold Rockwell's "Breaking Home Ties" in 2006 for more than $15 million, then a record.
The previous record for an American artwork was set at Sotheby's in 1999 for a work by George Bellows titled "Polo Crowd."
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